New scheme aims to free-up GP appointments

New scheme aims to free-up GP appointments

GP surgeries in east and north Hertfordshire are launching a new initiative to get patients the right health help more quickly when they call for an appointment.

More than 100 practice receptionists across the CCG area have undertaken additional training so they can direct patients to the health professional who is best placed to help.

Known as ‘care navigation’, this way of working is already proving successful in other parts of the country by connecting patients with the right health professional for their symptoms. Sometimes people may not need to wait to see an already busy GP when there is a different fully qualified professional who could help instead.  Care navigation can also free up GPs and practice nurses to spend more time with the patients who most need their help, advice and support.

Dr Jay Kuruvatti from Wallace House Surgery in Hertford said: “When you call your practice to make an appointment, the receptionist may ask you to tell them a bit about why you want to see a doctor.  You don’t need to give lots of detail, or tell them anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

“Once they know what you are calling about, they can see if there are other local health professionals, like school nurse, or the mental health wellbeing team who might be more suitable for you. Often these specialists will be able to see you more quickly than a GP could.

“We all know that GP surgeries are getting busier and our practice reception teams do their very best to find appointments for everyone who wants one. But sometimes, the right person for you to see may not be a GP.

“Telling the receptionist a bit about why you want to see someone will help them direct you to the right care, quickly. And, if after hearing about the other services nearby, you still want to see a GP, that’s fine too and the team will try to find you an appointment.”

Care navigation is just one of the ways in which East and North Hertfordshire CCG is working to improve access to primary care services.

Patients can now also request GP and nurse appointments in the evenings and at weekends through our ‘extended access’ scheme. GP surgeries are working together in local areas to provide these appointments so they won’t necessarily be held at patients’ usual surgeries. With a patient’s permission, the doctor or nurse will have access to their medical records in order to give the best possible care.